13 September 2006
by Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed
Five Years On, Being a Sceptic Doesn’t Automatically Mean You’re A Lunatic
… Although It Might Do
Five years after the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania that shook the world, scepticism about the Bush administration account of what happened, as well as of the “War on Terror” in general, has increased exponentially. This has accompanied the emergence of all kinds of pet theories about what happened, some of them truly bizarre, others intriguing but vacuous, and perhaps a few based on compelling facts.
For someone not familiar with these theories, it’s difficult to know where, and why, to start. And particular variants of 9/11 “truth”, such as the “no planes” theory that the whole event was merely an audiovisual technicolor chimera concocted on our TV screens, don’t help.
But is it all just a pile of lunacy? If only it was, I could sleep much better at night. Unfortunately, beneath the mountain of theories and speculations, there remain disturbing and persistent anomalies that have yet to be resolved. In this respect, the mainstream media’s approach to criticism of the 9/11 official narrative has been wanting in the extreme, focusing largely on bizarre pet theories and fringe speculations, suggesting that anybody who has doubts about the official story must be delusional, dumb, or both.
If only life were so simple. Five years after 9/11, the official narrative is riddled with inconsistencies that every official investigative process has been at great pains to ignore. For those familiar with the oddities and absurdities of the 7/7 official narrative here in the UK, this should not come as a great surprise. But it does indicate that the Western government narrative of international terrorism is profoundly flawed.
Among those sceptical of the government’s account of the 9/11 attacks, for instance, are the bereaved families of the 9/11 victims. “We hoped that our thousands of unanswered questions would be addressed and answered” said Lauri van Auken, whose husband Kenneth died in the attacks, in her opening address at an all-day Congressional hearing on 22nd July 2005 sponsored by Hon. Rep. Cynthia McKinney and Hon. Rep. Raul Grijalva, where I had the honour of testifying alongside a host of former intelligence officials, scholars and journalists. “Yet, incredibly, we have found that the Commission’s definitive final report has actually yielded more questions than answers,” continued van Auken on behalf of the 9/11 Families Steering Committee. She indicted the 9/11 Commission Report as just “some statements that truly insulted the intelligence of the American people, violated our loved ones’ memories, and might end up hurting us one day soon.”
Her characterisation of the Commission Report was the most damning condemnation that the 9/11 Families Steering Committee had ever made about the official inquiry process. Yet it was met with resounding silence from the American media, which refused to report the hearing in general, and ignored von Auken’s heart-rending testimony on behalf of the 9/11 families.
Collusion with the Enemy
In fact, overwhelming evidence confirms that al-Qaeda networks in the Middle East, Central Asia, the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Asia-Pacific, have been penetrated and manipulated by Western intelligence services. Conspiraloonery? If only it was. As I argue in my 3rd book, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism (2005), the evidence for this is extremely well-documented, deriving from innumerable, credible intelligence sources. But why? Largely to destabilize regional environments to pave the way for new “security” policies that serve to protect not people, but foreign investors taking over regional markets -- especially markets with significant oil and gas deposits.
Although it is widely acknowledged that our governments used al-Qaeda to repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, after the Cold War our geostrategic connections with al-Qaeda did not end. Actually, they proliferated in surprising and disturbing ways. Indeed, one CIA analyst described the covert strategy in plain words to Swiss television journalist Richard Labeviere, currently chief editor at Radio France International: “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvellously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.”
Areas where Western power continues to intersect, both directly and indirectly, with al-Qaeda networks around the world include Algeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Phillipines, Kosovo and Macedonia. So we’re talking about the regions of North Africa, Central Asia, the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific and the Balkans. These are just a few examples from the public record, and documentary evidence is available in great detail in The War on Truth.
Al-Qaeda operatives as senior as Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s own right-hand man, have been recruited by the CIA. According to Yousef Bodansky, former Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism, reporting in Defense & Foreign Affairs: Strategic Policy, the al-Qaeda deputy leader was approached by a CIA emissary in November 1997, who offered him $50 million to protect US interests in the Balkans, a deal he apparently accepted. Ayman and his brother, Muhammed, personally oversaw the establishment of al-Qaeda training camps in Kosovo and Macedonia after this point according to Bosnia, Albanian, Yugoslav, Macedonian, American and European intelligence sources, to train the same people -- the KLA (now operating as the NLA) – receiving advanced weapons and military training from the CIA and NATO.
The implication is dire, but it is one supported by other academics such as University of Ottawa professor Michel Chossudovsky and University of California (Berkeley) professor Peter Dale Scott: that al-Qaeda in many ways has continued to function throughout the post-Cold War period as an instrument of Western statecraft, a covert operations tool. The geostrategic arc of this policy across Central Asia, the Balkans and North Africa is charted more specifically in the latter one-third of my latest book, The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry (2006), which draws on some of my War on Truth research and expands on it directions more relevant for understanding the context of 7/7.
The thesis that Western power continues to connect with al-Qaeda in the pursuit of strategic and economic interests in the key regions mentioned, flies in the face of everything we are force-fed by the official narrative sponsored by governments and mass media. But consider the fact that my research in The War on Truth has been endorsed by people like Robert D. Steele, a retired Marine Corps infantry and intelligence veteran who worked as an operations officer in all four CIA Directorates. Apart from that, Steele was responsible for founding and setting-up the newest US intelligence facility, the Marine Corps Intelligence Center. He described The War on Truth as
“… consistent with both my years of experience as a clandestine case officer, and my extensive reading on national security misadventures. ... I find the author’s speculation that the US, the UK, and France, among others, have been actively using terrorists, nurturing terrorists, as part of a geopolitical and economic strategy… to be completely credible.”
Who Dunnit? “Er, Ahem, Don’t Ask, We’re Still Not Sure…”
So what about 9/11 specifically? Five years on, even core elements of the official narrative taken for granted by the 9/11 Commission Report, remain absurdly unresolved. To this day, for example, the real identities of most of the alleged hijackers are unknown. In this year’s volume of the peer-reviewed journal Research in Political Economy, edited by economics professor Paul Zarembka of New York State University, Jay Kolar reviews credible reports from the BBC, CNN, and other mainstream sources around the world, confirming that “at least ten of those named on the FBI’s second and final list of 19 have turned up and been verified to be alive, with proof positive that at least one other ‘hijacker’, Ziad Jarrah, had his identity doubled, and therefore fabricated”. Kolar argues that since many of the alleged hijackers are now alive, they must have had ‘doubles’ using their identities as aliases.
So who were these people? According to Daniel Hopsicker, a former PBS producer and NBC investigative reporter, US military sources confirm that the alleged hijackers had trained in US military installations in the 1990s, and even had connections to the CIA and DEA. Dozens of eyewitnesses told local American newspapers that they recognized some of these individuals from their FBI photos -- they had displayed patently non-Islamic behaviour in the form of drinking alcohol, snorting cocaine, and frolicking with women at lap-dancing clubs and illicit parties, incommensurate with that of normal practising Muslims, let alone Islamist al-Qaeda fanatics about to conduct the most spectacular martyrdom operation in history.
So again: Who were these people who, simultaneously, seemingly associated with the senior echelons of al-Qaeda, trained with the US military, were recruited by the CIA, and indulged in all sorts of illicit delights forbidden by Islamic norms? It's a question that the 9/11 Commission never asked.
And How Did They Do It? “Er, Ahem, No Comment…”
Worse still, in yet another bizarre anomaly that the 9/11 Commissioners simply ignored, most of these individuals were notoriously incapable of flying properly according to their own flight instructors. Mohammed Atta, Khalid al-Mihdhar, Marwan al-Shehhi and Hani Hanjour, were all described by their trainers as utterly incompetent. Hanjour’s instructor told the New York Times incredulously: “His English was horrible, and his mechanical skills were even worse. It was like he had hardly even ever driven a car. I’m still to this day amazed that he could have flown into the Pentagon. He could not fly at all.”
But Hanjour’s flight into the Pentagon, as is well-known, was described by pilots as one of the most sophisticated flying operations they had ever seen. “For a guy to just jump into the cockpit and fly like an ace is impossible -- there is not one chance in a thousand,” said former US Air Force and commercial pilot Russ Wittenberg.
Indeed, with four hijacked aircraft flying around the most restricted airspace in the US for about one and a half hours, why did the FAA and NORAD fail to respond immediately? As Lt. Col. (ret.) Robert Bowman, director of the Star Wars programmes under Presidents Ford and Carter, has said, standard operating procedures were systematically violated. Many military and intelligence experts across continents -- such as Stan Goff, US Army Special Forces Master-Sergeant (ret.); Andreas von Bulow, former State-Secretary in the German Federal Ministry of Defence (1976-1980) and Minister for Research and Technology (1980-1982); Gen. Anatoli Kornukov, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Force; among others -- remain perplexed on this point, and dissatisfied with the 9/11 Commission Report’s inadequate explanations of this monumental failure, the damning implications of which were flagged up by John Pilger in the New Statesman.
There are related issues here of public safety. For instance, technologies were in place to remotely direct the hijacked aircraft to avoid the terrible scenario unfolding. “Most modern aircraft have some form of autopilot that could be re-programmed to ignore commands from a hijacker and instead take direction from the ground,” Jeff Gosling of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, told the New Scientist one day after 9/11. Why were these technologies not used to save the aircraft? Why did the 9/11 Commission not bother to ask the same question?
The WTC Collapse Anomaly
Even the official account of the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings is being increasingly disputed by some American scientists. In a peer-reviewed contribution to the new book 9/11 and the American Empire (Olive Branch, New York), Steve Jones, professor of physics at Brigham Young University (BYU), points out the widely reported discoveries of molten metal in the basements of the two WTC towers, which were hit by planes, as well as in the third building, WTC 7 -- a building which symmetrically collapsed despite not being hit by a plane. In all cases, the official account blames intense fires, made hotter due to jet (or in WTC 7’s case diesel) fuel.
But all scientific investigations by NIST, FEMA and independent experts establish that the fires burned well below 2800˚ Fahrenheit, the melting point of steel. In other words, it is agreed by all that the fires never burned hot enough to melt the steel columns. Whether or not the steel was hot enough to buckle, the official account fails to explain the deposits of molten metal found after the collapses. If not the fires, what could have caused the steel to melt? Jones argues that the findings constitute “direct evidence for the use of high-temperature explosives, such as thermite, which produces molten iron as an end product.” Perhaps there are other explanations, perhaps not. But the data itself represents a problem for the official account.
Shocking and absurd conspiraloonery? Not really. That's the easy way out. The scientific validity of Jones’ line of inquiry has been supported by several other experts, such as Judy Wood, professor of Mechanical Engineering at Clemson University; and Charles N. Pegelow, a 30-year veteran structural engineer. Indeed, long before this emerging scientific dissent -- only 3 months after 9/11 -- the inadequacy of the official account had been flagged up by fire protection engineering experts. Editor Bill Manning wrote in Fire Engineering that:
“Fire Engineering has good reason to believe that the ‘official Investigation’ blessed by FEMA… is a half-baked farce that may already have been commandeered by political forces whose primary interests, to put it mildly, lie far afield of full disclosure… Respected members of the fire protection engineering community are beginning to raise red flags, and a resonating [result] has emerged: The structural damage from the planes and the explosive ignition of jet fuel in themselves were not enough to bring down the towers….”
Professor Jones didn’t write his paper to support a prior ideological-conspiratorial agenda -- he wrote it to point out that to date, conventional scientific explanations of the WTC collapses remain flawed and inadequate. The molten deposits found at Ground Zero, and the failure of the official narrative to account for them, represent an anomaly that should be investigated impartially, not dismissed for reasons of political convenience -- or arbitrary standards of the boundaries of sanity.
Five years on, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that we still don’t know what really happened on 9/11. And this dismal, pathetic state of affairs should not continue. The 9/11 families, and with them the wider public, have an elementary right to full answers to these basic questions. And I’m not about to offer you, the reader, an alternative all-explanatory theory, or a nice ready-made answer on a plate. I don’t have one. I just offer you the raw data to start a healthy process of cognitive dissonance, with which you can do as you please.
But I will say that there is one thing we do know: that much of the official narrative is untenable, in surprising and disturbing ways. As our leaders continue to push the Middle East toward the brink of nuclear war, while crushing civil liberties and criminalizing dissent at home, the case for a truly independent public inquiry into the phenomenon of terror could not be clearer.